EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 19, 2007

Urban style coming to North Andover mill buildings

By Drake Lucas , Staff writer

NORTH ANDOVER - The owner of East Coast Grill in Cambridge plans to open a restaurant in North Andover similar to her Inman Square restaurant that features a live-fire grill and bar.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant would be one part of a much larger renovation meant to bring a modern, more urban feel to the historic mill buildings at the corner of Water and High streets.

Building owner David Steinbergh of RCG LLC said he also hopes to attract a corner coffee shop and bookstore, places where people can linger and hang out.

Twenty loft apartments and the restaurant will replace 35,000 square feet of office space in the first stage of the redevelopment.

"A lot of people outside the city are starved for a good restaurant," said Andover resident Kristi Morris, owner of East Coast Grill.

The plans are the first part of a long-term renovation of the 235,000 square foot complex that currently houses school administrative offices and other small businesses. Cambridge SoundWorks also recently moved its headquarters into the space, but 75 percent of the rest of the building remains unused.

Steinbergh said the one- and two-bedroom apartments will cater to young professionals and couples who are moving out of bigger homes. Up to 200 apartments could go into the building as part of the conversion.

"We want to break up the space from industrial to small, more flexible uses," Steinbergh said.

Steinbergh, who specializes in mill renovations, said he plans to keep the historical character of the mill buildings, which were part of the Davis and Furber mills during the height of the woolen industry in North Andover from the late 1800s until the 1980s.

Town Meeting voted in May to designate the mills and the housing around them as the Machine Shop Village Neighborhood Historic District, meaning a commission will oversee exterior changes made to homes and buildings in the area. Any significant exterior changes to the mill buildings will have to be approved by the commission once it is set up.

The only new construction as part of the first phase would be penthouse apartments along the top of the building that would have rooftop gardens and decks.

Steinbergh said he also plans to add on-street parking for easy access to the retail part of the building at the corner of High and Water streets.

The Planning Board was supportive of the project this week and plans to give preliminary approval at its next meeting. Steinbergh said he wants to start construction as soon as possible on the first phase and have that ready next spring.